The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will be implemented later next year, will include a new Entry Exit System (EES) that will go into effect in May 2023. Non-EU nationals will find it more difficult to enter the European Union beginning next year.
Visitors from outside the EU will be required to apply for and pay for a visa waiver before entering a Schengen country.
Here’s how Europe is preparing for the changes, as well as how you might be able to avoid paying visa fees.
What exactly are the EES and ETIAS?
The EU’s new EES will collect additional information on non-EU visitors to the bloc.
Aside from passport information, automated border crossing points will collect and store biometric data such as fingerprints and facial images.
Passport stamps will be phased out. Instead, when someone enters or exits an EU country, the system will automatically register them.
This will make it easier to identify people who have overstayed their visas in the EU.
Non-EU citizens, including UK nationals post-Brexit, can only stay in the EU for 90 days before requiring a visa.
The EES does not apply to EU citizens or people traveling within the Schengen zone.
How does one go about applying for the ETIAS?
The broader ETIAS will take effect in November 2023. Non-EU citizens will have to pay €7 per person to visit most European countries.
Non-EU citizens can stay in the EU and Schengen zone for 90 days with this visa. Once a traveller’s visa is approved, they are not required to apply again for three years.
Because the Republic of Ireland is part of the Common Travel Area, no visa is required.
This is an open border zone that includes the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 70, you must fill out an online application and pay a €7 fee before you travel.
Non-EU nationals with permanent residence in an EU country may be exempt from the EES and ETIAS.
A biometric identity card, such as the carte de séjour in France or the carta di soggiorno in Italy, is required.
This also means you are exempt from the 90-day limit.
However, no information has been released on how automated border crossing systems would identify a traveller as an EU resident if they were carrying a non-EU passport.
How will the EES barriers appear?
EU member states are preparing to install automated barriers to conduct EES checks.
In airports, France will install self-service kiosks where passengers can pre-register their biometric data and personal information. They will then appear before a border guard for verification.
A similar system will be installed at airports in Germany and Austria.
Visitors arriving by car at France’s land and sea borders will be able to register their information using tablet devices.
Italy has announced plans to increase the number of automated gates in all of its major airports, as well as add 600 self-service kiosks.
Norway, on the other hand, plans to test “automated camera solutions” run by border guards.
Is EES going to cause border delays?
As the EU prepares to implement the digital barrier system, there are concerns that it will cause border disruption.
Several countries have expressed concern that there is insufficient time to test the more stringent checks before they go into effect.
Even visitors with EU residency may encounter delays.
The EU council released a document last week that included comments from various EU nations about the new system.
Austria and Germany were especially concerned that border wait times might increase.
“The additional tasks resulting from the EES regulation will result in a significant increase in process times,” Austrian officials stated.
“Right now, we anticipate that process times will double compared to the current situation.”
Will the EU be prepared for the EES?
There has also been concern about whether the physical infrastructure of the barriers will be completed on time.
German authorities have admitted that “a stable and operational EES system appears unlikely in May 2023.”
Austrian authorities have stated that they are working to make more space for automated kiosks, but this work will not be completed until the system is operational.
Avoiding ETIAS Scams
The European Union has already warned non-EU citizens to be wary of fraudulent websites offering ETIAS visas.
They claim that scammers may create clone websites or provide intermediary services.
These websites would defraud users by charging an extra administrative fee.
EU officials emphasize that visitors should only use the official ETIAS website. This has not yet been established, but will use the “europa.eu” domain.